Saturday, February 28, 2015

Value in Peacemaking

There are two sets of relationships that are fundamentally broken in the Jordan Valley agricultural community; the relationship between land owners and farmers, and the relationship between producers and buyers.  Mistrust between these parties is a major contributor to the poverty that ensnares smallholder farmers.  

Land owner/water right holders are seldom the primary decision makers regarding the use of their resources.  This leads to decisions that do not take the long term interests like soil health and water conservation into account as farmers most commonly partner with land owners in inter-annual agreements that end when soil salinity starts to seriously affect productivity.   

Buyers and sellers are adversely affected by one another's mistrust due to the fact that farmers do not adequately quality control the produce that they send to market.  As a consequence, farmers are given prices commensurate with a very high percentage of spoiled / unmarketable produce bringing the price at the farm gate down, while keeping market prices high for consumers.

The goal of AC4Ds trial and demo farm is to generate knowledge to enhance smallholder decision making, but the barometer by which we measure our success in community building is the increase in the integrity and level of trust that we see in these two key relationships.  Peacemaking between these parties is as important as any work that we undertake.  Fighting poverty is enhancing relationships, developing trust within the community and modeling cooperation for mutual benefit.         

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